Bavarian Romantic Road vs. Cotswolds Romantic Road

These two historic road trip routes cover the rural idylls of Germany and England. Post-Brexit, you might consider trading the dramatic background of the German Alps for the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, swap gothic Bavarian castles for a good old English stately home, and say goodbye to a giant bratwurst, enjoying a dainty cream tea instead.

Bavarian Romantic Road

  • Distance: 276.5 miles/445 kilometres
  • Driving time: Approximately 6 hours
  • Recommended holiday time: 10 days

Although it’s been a travel route for centuries, the Bavarian Romantic Road has only had its name since the 1950s. The route takes you high up into the German alps through picturesque villages where the only noise you’ll hear is the distant ring of cow bells.

Starting in Frankfurt, you’ll drive south through towns such as Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Nordlingen and Augsberg, before reaching the famous Hohenschwangau Castle near Fussen. We recommend taking 10 days to explore the region, and travel there in spring or summer to appreciate it at its best.

Rothenberg old town dates to the 13th century, and medieval buildings from this period still stand in the town. Spend the day exploring along the town walls and enjoy traditional German beer halls and local delicacies such as bratwurst and pretzels. The Medieval Crime Museum gives an insight into punishment, witch hunting and torture in Bavaria in the Medieval times – perfect for those who like their holidays a little gruesome.

Close to Augsberg, Fuggerei is the world’s oldest social settlement that has housed 200 impoverished Catholic tenants from the 16th century. The village is still inhabited today, and rent is a mere 88 cents per year – the modern-day equivalent to the same rent as when it was first built. The village is a real must see in Bavaria and is absolutely worth the €4 it costs to visit; all money goes back into the community to keep the buildings in a good condition.

Further south, and in the shadow of the Hohenschwangau Castle, is Alatsee, a beautiful lake that is magical in all weathers, with a casual restaurant on the water’s edge. Spend a few hours lazing by the water, and if the weather is good, take a swim. After lunch, take a walk through the forest on one of the many surrounding trails, before heading up to the castle.

Cotswolds Romantic Road

  • Distance: 80.4 miles/129 kilometres
  • Driving time: Approx. 2 hours
  • Recommended holiday time: 5 days

The Cotswolds is perhaps one of the most quintessentially English areas you will ever come across. This designated area of outstanding natural beauty in the south of England lies across many counties including Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

There’s plenty of history in this area, from Bronze and Iron Age forts and Roman settlements to the town of Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace and home of William Shakespeare and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Visit in spring or summer for the most predictable weather and take a minimum of 5 days to complete your tour.

Close to Broadway, spend the morning at Snowshill Manor and Garden. This National Trust property has something for all the family. Its beautiful country gardens also have a model village that will transfix people of any age. Finish up your visit with lunch or a scone in the tearoom. Ingredients are grown in the kitchen garden, so the food is fresh and organic.

Bourton-on-the-Water has beautiful rivers, streams and canals that, in summer, are perfect for paddling. The village’s main attraction is the Grade 2 listed Model Village that is a scale replica of the Bourton itself, all built in Cotswold stone. Miniature plants, similar to bonsai trees, are used as bedding plants for the tiny houses, and the model village is such an exact replica that it even has a scaled down model village of its own. The Cotswold Motoring Museum has classic cars, caravans, motorcycles and is home to the original Brum, the superhero car.

On the way up to Stratford, Lower Slaughter is a tiny village that’s worth stopping at. The River Eye is a slow-moving stream perfect for paddling, intersected by footbridges. There has been a village here for over 1000 years, and the main attraction is its quaintness.

After a brief exploration, move on to Stow-on-the-Wold and, most importantly, Le Patissier Anglais , a stunning patisserie selling delightful cakes and pastries. On a sunny day, sit outside and watch the world go by. After your break, meander through the village looking at the local landmarks: St Edward’s Church is known for its old door flanked by two thick yew trees.